Free Radical Design looks to have been shut, after the UK-based TimeSplitters studio closed its website and employees posted farewell messages on social media.
This was followed by another report, in which sources told VGC that Plaion had acknowledged in a company email that the studio could be closed on December 11, following the completion of a consultation process.
That closure now appears to be confirmed, after the Nottingham-based company replaced its website with the message: “404 Company Not Found :-(“.
The last day at FRD was very different from what I imagined. I don’t think it sunk in properly just yet, but handed my keys in and left the building the last time. It’s Time to Split pic.twitter.com/n1UGELsoED
— Adam Kiraly (@94Kiraly) December 11, 2023
Multiple developers also posted on LinkedIn today, claiming that all 80 remaining staff at the company have been let go. VGC has asked Embracer for comment.
“Well, that’s it, officially the final day of our time at Free Radical Design and an entire studio (just over 80 people) is out of work,” wrote Free Radical’s former IT manager. “It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with everyone here. There are some supremely talented people that are now in need of work.”
“And it’s over. My final day at Free Radical Design,” added a senior artist on LinkedIn. “It sees myself and just over 80 people out of work at the worst time of year for it to happen.”
A QA designer said: “Free Radical Design was a hub of creativity, but sadly, we join an ever-growing list of casualties in a broken industry where entire studios are treated as replaceable cogs in a soulless machine fixated on nothing but share prices.”
For the past six months, Embracer has been carrying out a restructuring plan which has already seen some game studios closed and some projects cancelled.
The company confirmed earlier this month that over 900 employees were let go during its second quarter ended in September.
In the case of Free Radical, Plaion – the Embracer division which runs the studio – was required by UK employment law to consult employees for a minimum of 30 days before making any redundancies, including exploring ways of avoiding them.
Since VGC’s original report, some UK studios, such as nearby Splash Damage, have offered guaranteed interviews for any Free Radical Design employee.
It’s not yet clear what the closure will mean for the future of TimeSplitters, the classic first-person shooter series the new Free Radical was re-established to revive.
The first iteration of Free Radical Design was formed in 1999 and developed the TimeSplitters series and Second Sight. Following the disappointing reception of Haze and a cancelled Star Wars: Battlefront project, the studio went bankrupt in 2008.
Plaion and its parent company Embracer announced in May 2021 that a new Free Radical Design had been established by original founders Steve Ellis and David Doak to bring the TimeSplitters IP “back to life”.
Job losses across the games industry have been widespread in 2023 and it’s estimated that over 9,000 people have lost their jobs so far this year.
Companies impacted by layoffs include Xbox Game Studios, Epic Games, Sony Interactive Entertainment, CD Projekt, Unity, Riot Games, Blizzard, Crystal Dynamics, BioWare, Striking Distance, Team17, Frontier Developments and Telltale Games.